The Christmas Department Store

The Christmas Department Store
Maudie Powell-Tuck and Hoang Giang
Little Tiger

It’s Christmas Eve but Benji feels anything but festive: it seems as though Christmas has lost its magic this year. His family can’t afford either a tree or a turkey and so they’re sad. As Benji walks through the snow-filled street wishing he could buy them spectacular presents he recalls his Granny’s words about magic happening on Christmas Eve. Suddenly a huge polar bear knocks him flying and as he gets up, there before him is a large department store. But this is no ordinary store; it’s full of wonder and magic, with penguin doormen and a shiny steam train that puffs along on a glittering spiral track.

One by one, Benji discovers the most perfect gifts for his family – a funky trumpet for his sister Hana, which he pays for by singing a silly song,

an unusual imaginary hat for his gran (he tells a story to a leopard in payment for that) and a very special warm-smelling potion for his dad. Full of excitement and high hopes for a wonderful Christmas Day, he returns home.

Next morning those hopes become doubts; but when he sees the smiles on Hana, Dad and Granny’s faces when they open their presents, he realises that the real gifts he’s given them are not material things but love and happiness.

Absolutely full of heart, this enchanting tale shows that the very best presents aren’t those bought with money, but those given with love and care. With their warm festive tones of red, gold and green Hoang Giang’s illustrations on every spread are filled with the magic of the department store.

Captain Cuddles

Captain Cuddles
Maudie Powell-Tuck and Julio Antonio Blasco
Little Tiger

There’s a new superhero on the block: step up Captain Cuddles. This clever canine, with his cape, mask and ginormous pink pants, is capable of the most amazing feats of heroism including turning baddies into goodies, merely with the power of a single hug. Don’t believe it? : well we all appreciate the power of a hug, having had to do without hugging during the worst of pandemic times.

There’s one singularly evil baddie however, that definitely has no intention of letting herself be embraced by the Captain and that is Wicked Flea. Said dastardly creature has a plan tucked beneath her wings and is about to unleash it in the name of all that’s bad.

She lures Captain Cuddles into a rocket on the pretext of someone within being in desperate need of a hug. The next thing he knows, our hugs hero is heading off into the depths of space, trapped within that space craft leaving the earth clear for all its baddies, like it or not to revert to their former pre-hug ways under the leadership of WF herself.

Or so she expects, for they’re not so easily persuaded as she thinks.

Captain Cuddles converts have a plan of their own but they appear to have reckoned without the wiliness of Wicked Flea.

What will win out: Team Huggers and their healing embrace or Teeny Team Flea? Or, maybe it it could even turn out to be a win-win situation … I wonder.

With cut away pages, flaps to explore and speech bubbles aplenty, this zany tale is full of dramatic moments brought into being through Blasco’s flattened images of the unlikely cast of characters and the lively text.
Superhero stories are very popular with young listeners and I have a feeling Captain Cuddles will join their number.

The Moonlight Zoo

The Moonlight Zoo
Maudie Powell-Tuck and Karl James Mountford
Little Tiger

With an arresting die-cut cover like the one on this book, from the creators of Space Train, who could resist plunging in to join young Eva as she undertakes a nocturnal search for her missing moggy Luna.

It all begins when Eva hears strange sounds coming from beneath her bed, dives underneath and finds herself at the gates of The Moonlight Zoo.

The guard wolf informs her that it’s a safe night haven for lost animals and with the helpful creature as guide she begins to hunt for Luna.

They look in various possible locations, find some clues – Luna’s collar and a lump of cat fur – but not that which they seek.

Time is running out for the zoo closes at dawn; then Eva hears a rumbly sound; could it possibly be Luna? …

Animal lovers especially will relish this adventure wherein they can explore the nocturnal world Karl James Mountford has created in his fantastical zoo populated by penguins, monkeys, guinea pigs, dogs, wolves, elephants and other lost creatures.The cutaway peep-through pages add to the visual delights of Maudie Powell-Tuck’s enchanting story wherein determination is key.

The Space Train

The Space Train
Maudie Powell-Tuck and Karl James Mountford
Little Tiger

Light years from Earth in a space station live Jakob, his robot chicken named Derek and his granny.

Jakob has made a discovery: in hangar 19 is, so he thinks, a huge abandoned rocket.
Granny knows otherwise. “It’s the Space Train,” she tells her grandson … “When I was little, the Space Train criss-crossed the universe on tracks of stardust visiting station after station –“.

Jakob’s excitement mounts as he thinks about all the places they might visit and potential friends he could discover if they fixed the train.

After a week of hard work,

riveting, welding, fixing and cleaning the train was finally ready. Tomorrow they would launch it.
Next morning however didn’t quite go to plan. A resounding BANG and sooty faces were the only outcomes when Jakob pulls the launch lever.

Jakob and Derek are ready to give up: not so Granny, so it’s back to look at the plans again.

Soon, they’re ready to give it another go and this time …

With its space setting, quirky characters, problem-solving, a plethora of flaps to explore as well as Jakob’s logs to study, this unusual story should please young readers, especially those with a liking for things mechanical. Karl’s zany, illustrations are packed with other-worldly paraphernalia, mechanical bits and pieces and the occasional alien. Love the colour palette and the nuts and bolts laying Derek.

Last Stop on the Reindeer Express

Last Stop On the Reindeer Express
Maudie Powell-Tuck and Karl James Mountford
Little Tiger Press

Christmas is often said to be about wishes.
For most people what makes Christmas really special isn’t presents or festive food, it’s family. For Martha though, an important part of her family won’t be at home for Christmas: her dad is far away and can’t make it back.
For this little girl, the Christmas sparkle feeling suddenly plummets when she hears that the card she’s made him won’t get to him in time. If only he weren’t so far away, she wishes.
As she walks dejectedly home through the Christmas market she comes upon a strange-looking post box with a door but no posting slot.

Suddenly she finds herself embarking on a trip aboard the Reindeer Express being whisked away through forests; then over chilly seas, a city whose streets are lit by paper stars …

and snowy mountains, to a small snow-covered lodge.
What will she discover within?
Can she deliver that card in time for Christmas?

With mentions of cinnamon, sugar and smoky wood,  Maudie Powell-Tuck evokes traditional sensory seasonal delights while also showing the importance of family love, a love that transcends time and place and is always there.
Karl James Mountford’s mellow colour palette, his attention to detail, those fabulous scenes both indoors and out, cutaway peep-through pages and flaps, all contribute to the enchantment of this Christmas jewel of a book.
From cover to cover, a real winter-warmer: perfect for the chilly days in the lead up to Christmas at home or in school.

I’ve signed the charter

The Messy Book


The Messy Book
Maudie Powell-Tuck and Richard Smythe
Little Tiger Press
After reading the opening two or three spreads of this book I was convinced its creators must have been flies on the wall in my home at some time. Here’s how it starts …

As the story progresses though – and brilliantly, the whole thing is delivered entirely through speech bubbles and hilarious, very messy visuals – it becomes apparent that it’s about much more than merely tidying up your own space. Environmental pollution is its central theme, as cat proceeds to shove the mountain of mess from land …


to sea …


much to the disgust of the other animals: dog, elephant, giraffe, the creatures of the ocean, a pair of penguins, oh, and there’s a fox there somewhere too. Yes, we all agree with cat, tidying up can be pretty boring and ways of livening up the whole process present all kinds of exciting possibilities …


For some of those concerned anyway …


Oh, oh! It looks like we’re back where we started again but what is all this about hats? Where there are hats there’s usually a party and where there’s a party there’s usually rather a lot of mess … Here we go again …


Already I’ve had a bit of a rant in other places about the kinds of books that ought to be given to children in the early stages of becoming readers (NOT dull scheme fodder). This is a perfect example of a great book for those in the fairly early stages.
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